Secularism in Lebanon

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"The Laique pride" rally in Beirut Central District, Lebanon

The secularization process in Lebanon began under a 1920s French mandate, continuing under different governments since independence. Lebanon is a parliamentary democracy within an overall confessionalist framework; as a form of consociationalism, the highest offices are proportionately reserved for representatives from certain religious communities.

However, increasing numbers of Lebanese organize against this confessionalist system and for an installation of laïcité in the national government.

In April 2010, Laïque Pride, a secular group co-founded by feminist[1] Yalda Younes, called for “an end to the country's deep-rooted sectarian system” and for a “secular Lebanon.”[2] Laïque Pride supports the enacting of a unified Civil Code for the Personal Status Law.[3][4]

At a march in May 2012 in which 600 participated, Laïque Pride issued demands, four concerning women’s rights and two concerning media freedom.[3][5] Secular student clubs from Saint Joseph University (USJ), the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (ALBA), as the American University of Beirut (AUB) also participated in the march.[6]

On April 26, 2010, in response to Hizb ut-Tahrir's growing appeal in Beirut and demands to re-establish an Islamic caliphate, a Laïque Pride march was held in Beirut. Three days later, 70,000 gathered Martyrs’ Square in Beirut in a march organized by Laïque Pride.

In 2011, hundreds of protesters rallied in Beirut on 27 February in a march referred to as "The Laique pride", calling for reform of the country's confessional political system. At the same time, a peaceful sit-in took place in Saida.[7]

Student organizations[edit]

Student organizations have paid a key role in secular movements in Lebanon, particularly those at the American University of Beirut.[8]

One such secular origination is the Secular Club, a progressive student organization established after the 2008 conflict. According to former club president Joumana Talhouk, the goal of the club is “to create a political space where people from different social and sectarian backgrounds can unite under common principles.”[9]

Another organization is the far-left Red Oak Club. According to former president Theresa Sahyoun, the Red Oak Club and the Secular Club managed to find “common ground” and endorse the August 2016 Martyrs’ Square protest organized by Laïque Pride (“Secular Pride”).[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]